By Ian O’Brien, Chief Solutions Officer at Four51
As the B2B industry follows B2C’s path into the eCommerce world, it becomes more apparent why 3PLs need to embrace omnichannel. B2B eCommerce simplifies the supply chain in many ways, including automation of tedious, manual processes; real-time analytics of customer behavior; the speeding-up of customized orders; the reduction of order-to-delivery times; and more.
CEOs and CMOs have for years been fixed on the concept of having a “single view” of their customer. This enables them to react to the needs of the individual regardless of which channel they use or how they interact with their brand. A number of booming B2C companies, like Uber, Netflix, and Amazon, have mastered personalized, online, and mobile eCommerce experiences, reaching consumers through multiple channels seamlessly and in real-time.
Omnichannel for B2B eCommerce means considering all constituents that demand a personalized buying experience. Effective B2B businesses – including 3PLs – are customizing the online and mobile experiences optimized to each channel - the customer support rep, the warehouse, the sales rep, the distributor, the retailer and the consumer. They then further segment those channels to optimize service, brand value and market opportunity.
The movement towards an omnichannel experience needs to happen now for businesses if they want to remain competitive. While a staggering $6+ billion in B2B commerce will be done offline in 2015, much of it through costly call centers and catalogs, a strong majority (85%) of B2B customers prefer to buy online (Forrester). This gap is a growing threat to companies who do not adapt and for 3PL providers offering eCommerce fulfillment, staying on top of the latest eCommerce trends will help you to best position yourself as a trusted partner.
OrderCloud by Four51 makes it easier for companies to simplify their supply chain while also providing the online experience that customers are demanding. The cloud-based, order management platform provides a flexible, fast and comprehensive solution for companies looking to invest in an omnichannel experience. With OrderCloud, businesses are able to make a smooth transition to B2B eCommerce and spend their time focusing on a customer-centric strategy.
Here are three ways OrderCloud offers a flexible eCommerce solution that solves business’ unique needs and ultimately creates the rich, omnichannel experience customers are demanding:
  1. Faster speed-to-market. Traditionally, businesses had to undergo extremely expensive projects over multiple year-long timelines. This required large teams of people to create the experience they hoped to build. The OrderCloud platform allows businesses to more flexibly and nimbly customize the experience to make implementation faster than it was in the past. Jonathan Murray, Interim CTO of The New York Times, says “It used to be that we would design a project, specify the systems, install those systems, test the applications and, finally, we would deliver a project after 18 to 24 months. That’s a losing strategy in an era of constantly shifting markets and consumer needs.” OrderCloud gives businesses the ability to add, delete, or modify functionalities as they build them, allowing them to get to market and respond to changing buyer needs faster.
  2. Build only what you need. The days of trying to find one software giant to cover all of an organization’s business needs are over. OrderCloud creates efficiencies in business supply chains in two ways: a complex data model and extensive integration capabilities. First, OrderCloud was built on 16 years of solving complex B2B problems. Rather than forcing business processes to adapt to a solution, OrderCloud allows businesses to pick and choose which functionalities are necessary and apply them to their systems. Second, the OrderCloud platform easily integrates with existing systems, including ERP, CRM, analytics or marketing software. It enables you to create personalized suites of systems to satisfy specific supply chain needs, as well as your customers’.
  3. Create a seamless omnichannel experience. Because it’s possible to adapt OrderCloud to your current business processes, it’s easier than ever to create a seamless omnichannel experience. Traditionally, software companies ask users to adapt to their business to the software rather than the other way around. With OrderCloud, businesses can use real-time data analytics to monitor customer behavior, learn where customers and customer segments are ordering, what pages they visit the most, where they slowdown in the checkout process, and what time they are ordering. This enables businesses to continually adapt their eCommerce sites and processes to develop a more responsive and intuitive experience for each channel.
From automating manual, tedious processes to analyzing customer behavior in real-time to speeding up customized orders and order-to-delivery time, cloud-based order management directly impacts logistics and simplifies the supply chain. The cloud makes it easier for companies to connect, maintain and manage relationships with suppliers, distributors and manufacturers at each point in the process, all online. This benefits both the business and its customers, providing users with a simplified purchasing process.
Ian O’Brien is Chief Solutions Officer at Four51, which powers B2B eCommerce for over 3,000 customers and nearly 20 million users. Learn more at

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